THE AGEING VETERAN PERSPECTIVE
Any time change is made in the NHL it spawns a lot of controversy. This is especially true when the change has to do with goalie equipment. Last year when the league announced that goalie pants would be changing, goalies, agents, and members of the media were very vocal. The change saw pads curving around the leg rather than flaring out and created more sizes for goalies to align with different waist sizes.
Now that we have seen more information regarding this year’s change to chest protectors, there is another controversy. Going into this season, chest protectors will feature a more streamlined neck and shoulder, creating a smaller overall size. The thought was to decrease the amount of material being used purely for taking up net space. I think this is a great idea as goalies have been looking gigantic in the net.
Personally, I love low-scoring, defensively-minded games. Watching a 2-1 game or a 3-2 game is very exciting to me, but that isn’t what draws the casual fans to hockey. More casual fans, or fans that are relatively new to the NHL, love watching goals more than anything else. Making chest protectors smaller will absolutely lead to more red lights flashing.
The issue it seems, however, with the new chest protectors is that goalies do not believe they will adequately protect them during the games. The original test footage for the protector featured former New Jersey Devils goalie Ken Appleby take a shot off the collarbone and have to stop the drills while he was attended to. He was fine and had said he felt no pain afterwards, but the fear is that if he had to stop a practise drill due to a possible injury, how will goaltenders fair when faced with some of the elite shots the NHL will certainly offer them?
Luckily there is still time before the season starts, and the NHL has said they will continue to tweak the pads to ensure they achieve the smaller overall profile but are fully able to protect all the goalies in the league. I think this minor change will ultimately be a good one, and all fans will enjoy the changes it will bring to the league.
Recent goalie equipment changes:
2011- Goalie pads restricted to 55% height of players thigh.
2017- Restrictions set to goalie pant size.
2018- Chest protectors streamlined around collarbone and neck.